CAPACITY TO GROW

Azerbaijan 2012 | AGRICULTURE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Aydin Mehdiyev, Owner of Delta Group, on expanding production, imports and exports, and expectations for the FMCG sector.

Aydin Mehdiyev
BIOGRAPHY
Aydin Mehdiyev was born in 1965 and entered the Department of Finance and Management at Azerbaijan State Economic University in 1981. After working through the 1990s in Russia, he became a businessman in Azerbaijan in 1997 and finally the Owner of Delta Group.

How did Delta Group come about?

The successful developmental reforms led by President Ilham Aliyev have created opportunities for entrepreneurs and businessmen in our country, who then contributed to further professionalizing their organizations as well expanding their business activities. Under these circumstances, Delta Group was established in 1999 and today we hold wide experience in Azerbaijan's trading system; we have companies operating in different sectors such as exports, production, distribution, logistics, and business consulting. The aim of grouping them under the same umbrella was to use our resources more effectively, and at the same time ensure professional management standards. The fact that we have been working and providing services for such a long time in trade and the FMCG sector sets us apart from our competitors. We have been functioning both in Azerbaijan and in foreign countries for more than 12 years, and today we are the official representative in Azerbaijan of many worldwide brands and companies.

What is the percentage of production activities in your overall business volume?

Production represents around 50% of our overall activities. We are planning to sign contracts with several foreign companies by the end of 2013, and the share of production in our overall activities is expected to increase, for it is a priority in our future plans. The BisMak Food Production Complex, located in the industrial area of Sumgait city, was opened in December 2006. The complex includes a three-story office building, a biscuit factory with six production lines, a pasta factory with three production lines, and a modern mill complex and chocolate factory with three production lines. In that regard, leading specialists from Turkey and Russia have been invited to the BisMak Food Production Complex in order to boost international cooperation and increase those figures. In addition, our “Saglam Qida" (“Healthy Food") factory is expected to open in 2012, and this will increase our capacity in the second half of the year.

Delta Group is building a pastry factory that will produce over 40 types of bread and pastries. What market factors influenced this investment, and what are your current expectations for output?

At present, the BisMak Food Production Complex makes flour, pasta, biscuit products in various types, and chocolate, which are high quality and greatly enjoyed by our customers. The next step forward was the production of bread. All of us know that bread is a strategic product worldwide. For the purposes of developing this area, we launched the so-called “Safe Food" project, supported by the National Fund for Supporting Entrepreneurship. The production process in the factory will be based on the technology of leading German company Werner & Pfleiderer, and in accordance with international standards. The factory, which will employ around 500 workers, will have a production capacity of 124 tons per day, and this figure is expected to rise to 200 tons by 2013. It will produce more than 40 different types of bread and flour.

How can the company benefit from the expansion of infrastructure such as Baku's port and airport?

The expansion of such infrastructures means the expansion of our business activities, especially for imports and exports. Above all, it will impact on the speed of such processes, and it will create broader opportunities for our logistics services. Delta Group is in the process of establishing the “Delta Logistics" center. The center will be equipped with modern technologies meeting international standards and will provide services to local and foreign companies. Delta Group is highly interested in the development of national and international infrastructure in Azerbaijan, and we fully support the government's policies in this direction.

What are Delta Group's plans for the future?

Delta Group has always been a development-oriented company and has actively sought to join nationwide projects. In addition to the bread factory, we are planning projects in the field of poultry and egg production, flour products, as well as chocolate and biscuits. In that regard, we have been holding talks with Swiss company Bühler. We aim to expand our import portfolio and bring even more internationally recognized brands to Azerbaijan.

What role do domestic demand and exports play in the development of the company?

In general, our activities are solely focused on meeting the demands of our customers. We pay particular attention to exports, for we aim to make Azerbaijan known in foreign countries by producing goods capable of being competitive in the global marketplace. We are currently exporting to countries including Russia, Israel, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Liberia, and Iraq. Delta Group has many international partners and we are currently cooperating with leading companies in countries such as New Zealand, Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Russia, Latvia, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Colombia, Turkey, and Poland. For example, one of our many successful partnerships has been with Fonterra, from New Zealand, which is a world leader in producing butter and dairy foods. Delta Group has been representing Fonterra in Azerbaijan and other foreign countries for the last 11 years. In the future, we intend to expand cooperation with other European and Asian countries as well as to import products from countries in the CIS area.

What's your outlook for the Azerbaijani market in the FMCG field for 2012?

Over the last few years, the FMCG sector has continuously developed and we have seen an expansion of market chains and an increase in local production. In addition, many worldwide brands have entered the Azerbaijani market. All these factors have led to an expansion of Azerbaijani companies abroad, as they have been using their experience in the national market to widen the scope of their activities. Nowadays, you can also see foreign countries exporting goods produced in our country. I am very positive in terms of future expectations and I believe the sector will grow further in 2012 and beyond.